Posts Tagged 'Community Partner Response Installation'

Community Connection: Free Association

The current Community Partner Response Installation in the Center for Creative Connections invites visitors to contemplate space in relation to the African American experience.  Titled Free Association and designed by artists associated with the South Dallas Cultural Center, the installation provides a variety of experiences that include sound, poetry, media, and movement while exploring the notion of limitations of space.

South Dallas Cultural Artists. From left: Harold Steward, Patrick Washington, Ava Wilson, Vicki Meek, Michelle Gibson, Malik Dillard.

Collaborators on this project and their areas of expertise include Malik Dillard, media; Michelle Gibson, dance; Vicki Meek, visual; Harold Steward, theater; Patrick Washington, media; and Ava Wilson, poetry.  Read their perspectives on the installation below, along with their free association responses to the words community, creativity, and art.  

Vicki – What was your vision for this project?  Free Association was created around the concept of limited space and how such limitations can either contain you or spur you to stretch beyond them. The general idea was to explore the history of African Americans within the context of this concept, paying close attention to how African Americans have used creativity to transcend societal constrictions. The more specific idea was to explore the performing, visual, literary & media arts as means of expressing the transcendence of limitations.

Inspired by the installation title Free Association, what is the FIRST word or phrase that comes to mind when you read the following terms?

Community = Essential
Creativity = Boundless
Art = Life 

Harold – How did you integrate theater with the other components of the installation?
More than theater, I was working with some of the components of performance studies. In particular, I wanted to look at the ways in which people naturally operate in “open space” and how that differs when space is confined. One of the many attributes of people of African descent is that we have historically found ways to work within the confines forced upon us when we are taken outside of the continent of Africa, and held on to some cultural traditions while creating new ones in very limited physical and sociological spaces.  The guiding question I had was, “What cultural practices and survival techniques did descendants of Africa keep or create once they arrived on the American shore, and where do they intersect?” The workshop that I offered in conjunction with the installation used Theater of the Oppressed games to cause the participants to be conscience of things that they feel, hear, and see, and the effect these things have on the individual or groups of people when they go unrecognized.

Community = Web- to destroy the community you destroy the web, to build a community you build the web
Creativity = Kuumba –The Kwanzaa principles that demands that we leave our community better than we found it
Art = Knowing what beauty to keep and what issues to call out

Ava – How did you connect poetry to the ideas of free association and space?
The written word is very powerful.  Through the use of several literary devices – metaphor, allusion, symbolism, etc. –  tethered specifically by imagery, I wanted to allow the reader to visualize what enslavement may have been like.  I wanted to create a “free association”, if you will, for the reader.  As for space, I wanted the taut nature of the language and the use of references to shape and dimension to show the vastness of the universe and in the African world in contrast to the narrowness that was the dungeons, slave ships, and realities that the African faced in the west.

Community = Family
Creativity = Spirituality
Art = Life

Patrick – How did you use media to enhance the installation?
We used digital photography, streaming video feed, and an electronic music production program to enhance our installation.

Community =  UNITY
Creativity = ART
Art = LIFE

Malik – How did the use of media enhance the installation? I feel that the media side of the installation creates interaction and gives a great visual for dance instruction.

Community = People coming together
Creativity = Music/Art
Art = Dance/Spoken Word/ Music

Explore Free Association and your own creative responses in the Center for Creative Connections through October 12.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

South Dallas Cultural Center in the C3 House

If you have stopped by the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections recently, you might have noticed our fourth Community Partner Response Installation near the Space Bar. The South Dallas Cultural Center (SDCC) created Free Association, a 12-foot-tall multimedia, interactive installation that includes a music composition station and a choreography instructional video. You can experience the installation through October.

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Community Connection: Accumulation Project

What’s 2,490 feet long, made of paper, and on view at the DMA?  Hint: visit the current Community Partner Response Installation titled Accumulation Project, by Annette Lawrence, Professor of Drawing and Painting at UNT.  Over eleven months, visitors of all ages contributed to Accumulation Project during workshops led by Annette during her time as a C3 Visiting Artist.  She also invited staff from various DMA departments to help with the installation in the days leading up to its unveiling.

Do you typically invite people to help you install your work?

In different contexts, I have students or volunteers or preparators or whoever works at the gallery, museum, etc. help with installation.  I work more often with staff than with the public. For the DMA, part of the project was with the public, during workshops for people of all ages.  Often, the adults were more interested in the idea of creating a long line of paper than the children were.  Some kids got into it, depending on their personality.  At the time of installation, we were in a time crunch and invited DMA staff to help, and I was really happy with the response.  It was a pleasure working with everyone, and it seemed like it gave folks a break from their regular work. There was a great energy about pitching in.  Once everyone was there, the installation was finished quickly.

The help of other people can cut the installation time in half.  At the MFA Houston Glassell School of Art, l had one guy working with me consistently, and people coming in and out through the day to install Theory.  That took us six days.  Usually when someone starts working with me, they start to own the piece: they’re committed and want to see it finished.  In this case, my helper wasn’t an artist; he was the maintenance guy, and he had time to help.

Theory, Annette Lawrence, 2003, installation at the Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX

What do you enjoy about teaching college students?

Mainly, I enjoy the process of discovering things with them.  It depends on the level of class.  In beginning classes, students are introduced to materials and are figuring out how to use them.  After that, students pursue things that interest them, and I point them towards resources.  I often find I am learning with them as they explore different processes.  Lately, there has mostly been more interest in paint than anything else, but at times it veers off in other directions like installation work or sound.  Photography has also been incorporated into work as well as lots of mixed media while students are finding their own way.

You spoke at the DMA earlier this year about your work at Cowboys Stadium.  What was your initial reaction to the request for a commissioned work of art at the Stadium?

Lisa Brown of Dunn and Brown Contemporary loaded the conversation with artists who had already said yes – Mel Bochner, Laurence Weiner, Matthew Ritchie and Olafur Eliasson – she was kind of setting me up.  I said “Oh well, OK I guess I’ll do it.”  I studied Mel Bochner and Lawrence Weiner as an undergraduate student, and I was pretty excited about being in a collection that they were in.  Meeting them in real life – in the context of a celebration for the Cowboys Stadium Art Program – I could not have imagined that.

It was an odd request; a contemporary art collection at a professional sports stadium had not been done before.  I wasn’t opposed.  I was excited and interested in seeing the work happen, but it is a little bit ironic considering my interest in sports (or lack thereof) that the one permanent installation of my work is in a football stadium.

I designed the piece based on the space I was given, one of the main entryways.  In the interest of relating the piece to football, I looked up a glossary of football terms on Google.  As soon as I saw the words “Coin Toss”, I knew it was the right title.  It just fit, beyond the shape of the piece – a circle moving in space – but it also goes with the start of game, and the artwork’s placement in the entryway.  The Jones’s response to the title was so positive, and it was part of the enthusiasm for the work.

Coin Toss, Annette Lawrence, 2009, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Look at other people’s creations, mostly.  Looking at art, films, theater, dance, music, and all the arts take up most of my time.  Visiting friends and family is high priority, where we often talk about art.  If it’s with friends, we generally have art conversations.  With family, it can be anything.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Just visiting and being with good friends and family. I’m not interested in Christmas hype, but I like how things slow down a little bit and everyone is observing that this is time to spend with people you care about.  I alternate between doing Christmas or not doing Christmas.  This is a not year – we’re just not really doing it.  We’ll probably send out greetings to friends and families around New Year’s – after Christmas.  Last year, we sent a fun video, so we’re thinking about what we will do this year.  Whatever we send will be homemade.

Installing at Cowboys Stadium

Accumulation Project is on view in the Center for Creative Connections through May 2012.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


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